Alaska: Deep Backcountry

Float planes, backcountry campsites, the rare chance to spot brown bears in the wild

Alaska of Your Dreams

Backcountry campsites, wilderness and wildlife

Two Exclusive Dates

August 15 - 21, 2022 with Outside's Chris Keyes

August 22 - 28, 2022

7 Days, 6 Nights

Each date limited to 10 people to maximize our access

Price from

$5,400

Per person. Inaugural departure with Chris Keyes is $5,700. Outside+ members receive an exclusive $200 savings, details here

Speak with an adventure expert

+1 (503) 907-9889

Your standing on the shore of a sun-dappled lake as your float plane gathers speed and takes off into the vastness. You’re deep into Alaska’s Katmai National Preserve, the most remote corner of a remote expanse famed for its wild brown bears. You journeyed here by bush plane and float plane to hike from pristine high-mountain lakes, over tundra squeezed by snowcapped peaks, to campsites tucked along the shores of remote rivers where brown bears wade midstream to catch salmon. As you stare off into rugged the mountain scenery beyond, it hits you: the term wilderness? It was created for places just like this.

This epic seven-day adventure reaches rarely seen corners of some of Alaska’s wildest national parks. We drop in, set a pick-up spot about 30 miles aways, shoulder our packs and head out across the treeless tundra. We have prime access to Katmai and Lake Clark national parks with seasoned guides—and on our inaugural departure, we’ll travel alongside Outside magazine’s editor-in-chief Chris Keyes, who’s had Katmai on his life-list for a long, long time. Plus, expedition-worthy camping gear, great backcountry cooking, and the final reward of lakeside cabins you won’t want to leave.

Katmai is only 90 minutes from Anchorage, but so remote it’s rarely visited. If you want to immerse yourself in true wilderness, and witness a score of brown bears gorging on salmon, this trip is for you. We’ll be deep in rarely visited parts of Alaska, accessed only by float plane. We’ll hike through untouched landscapes, camping along clear streams and backpacking in areas most hikers will never see.

Alaska Backcountry Highlights

How We Travel

This trek is led by expert local guides with deep experience in Alaska's backcountry. Most gear is provided for us. We'll sleep in expedition-quality tents and help set up camp each day. We’ll carry backpacks (30-40lbs) with our individual gear and a portion of the group gear. Our guides prepare all meals—this is backcountry cooking at its very best.

Activity Level: Hard

We'll cover 6 to 8 wilderness miles a day, with up to 2,000 feet of elevation gain/loss. There are no trails here; our routes are based on weather and wildlife, taking us off-trail through steep and uneven terrain. This trek is accessible for most age levels who maintain good physical fitness and are prepared for the demands of backcountry hiking.

Exclusive Outside Access

On our inaugural departure we travel with Outside's Chris Keyes, the magazine's editor in chief since 2006. Chris has visited every US state except Alaska; backpacking in the Katmai has been on his life-list for a long time. The chance to do it now with the Outside community is pretty much the best thing ever.

Your Alaska Adventure

“To the lover of wilderness, Alaska is one of the most wonderful countries in the world.” —John Muir

“Alaska isn’t about who you were when you headed this way. It’s about who you become.” —Kristin Hannah

Join Outside magazine editors and like-minded adventurers with a passion for the outdoors. True wilderness. Epic exploration. Cultural immersion. Join us on the journeys of a lifetime.

Day by Day

Backcountry Alaska gets real wild, in the remotest corners of Katmai and Lake Clark national parks. Although we’ll use this itinerary as a guide, circumstances like weather conditions, individual ability, and safety may cause us to adjust. Out here, we roll with what Mother Nature gives us—that’s true Alaska.

Day 1

The adventure begins! We meet in Anchorage, check our gear, then head out on a gorgeous bush-plane ride down the wild coast of the peninsula. After a stop for lunch on Lake Clark’s shores, we fly again, this time in a float plane over snaking freshwater rivers and sprawling snow-capped mountains into the remote northeast corner of Katmai, to begin our exploits in the serious Alaskan wild.

Depending on the day’s weather, our float plane drops us at Kukaklek, Iron Springs or Mirror lakes. We’ll set up camp and strike out on a short day hike to get acquainted with our new backcountry home, then have dinner and rest up for our first leg: a two-day hike down into bear country.

Day 1: 3 miles, 2 hours hiking, 1,000′ elevation gain

Days 2 - 3

Get ready for two glorious days of pristine backcountry hiking, with a backdrop of soaring volcanoes and glacier-fed rivers. From our camp, we eat up then head up, up and over our first mountain pass, across scree fields and boulders, out onto the tundra, watching for herds of caribou, eagles soaring, and brown bears fattening on the literal millions of salmon in choking the rivers and streams. This night we’ll set up camp on a lake and relax.

The next morning, we rise early for a hot breakfast, then hike past small spring-fed lakes and creeks surrounded by spectacular peaks. Our route rises in broad tundra, through broad valleys and sweeping views out to the horizon.

Day 2: 5-6 miles, 5-7 hours, 1,200′ gain
Day 3: 5 miles, 5 hours, 500′ gain

Day 4

Our goal today is the Spectacle Lake region and the headwaters of Moraine Creek. This is true bear country with each river,  stream and sandy inlet pulsing with salmon making their last upstream push to nest and lay eggs. Brown bears consume a staggering 100,000 calories of salmon every day, providing cast-off food and nutrients for the entire ecosystem. We’ll set up camp and head out on an afternoon hike (daypacks only) in search of wildlife and, of course, bears. When we return it’s time to relax, and maybe even fish for a few trout.

Day 4: 7 miles, 8 hours, 900′ gain

Day 5

We’ll rise early, many miles and a world away from any other people, eat a hot meal then head out. We’ll take daypacks for a full-day ramble along Funnel Creek to its confluence with Moraine Creek. Up on the ridge, we’ll look for brown bears, both lone males and mothers with spring cubs, roaming the creek and fishing for salmon, as well as birds of prey and other wildlife. We’ll go slow and appreciate every moment in Katmai’s bear country, before looping back to our camp. Tonight we’ll take in the twinkling stars in a place very, very few people have ever seen. This is truly special.

Day 5: 11 miles, 8 hours, 400′ gain

Day 6

Katmai isn’t the only patch of remote glory on the peninsula. Today we’ll rise for breakfast, then hear something surprising: our float plane. Be forewarned, the sound of the plane coming to fetch us at journey’s end might feeling jarring to the wilderness-lovers we’ve become.

Our float plane will take us to Farm Lodge’s lakeside cabins at Port Alsworth, on the namesake lake of Lake Clark National Park. Bigger than Connecticut (and a national park only since 1980), Lake Clark sees just a few thousand visitors a year, often coming to paddle in the paradise of the lake.

First, let’s be honest, we’ll hit the showers then have time to explore, hike or paddle on the lake before gathering for a celebratory dinner of home-cooked Alaskan fare.

Day 7

Alas, our time in this patch of paradise is over. We pack up for our flight back to Anchorage, bid a fond farewell to our new group of friends, bonded over Alaska’s great wild, with backcountry memories to share for years to come. Until next time!

Where We Sleep

Our Alaska is backcountry camping on mountain-rimmed tundra and lakeside beaches, plus a grand finale of luxurious cabins at an all-timer location.

Katmai National Park & Preserve

Days 1 - 5: Backcountry Camping

For Days 1 thru 5, we'll camp in the backcountry. We provide expedition-quality tents and trekking poles, along with group-size tarp shelters and all the gear we need to camp safe and comfortable—plus an array of portable cookery for camp-kitchen feasts of seriously delicious cuisine (from reindeer rotini to Shanghai noodles).

Lake Clark National Park

Day 6: Farm Lodge

We spend Days 6 and 7 at the remote, incredibly scenic Farm Lodge, located in Port Alsworth at the headwaters of Lake Clark. The Farm Lodge is a worthy reward after several days of trekking. Cabins face the water, neatly reflecting the mountain peaks that rim the lake. We’ll have options to hike, raft or look for wildlife here, plus sit down to delicious, fresh home-cooking for our final feast.

I am truly a tough critic but you planned an exceptionally fun adventure—no constructive criticism necessary.
Avis C.
Rustic luxe. How can you top that?
Debra B.
Every person involved with leading and guiding was top notch—friendly, knowledgeable, fun, kind—it doesn’t get better.
Elizabeth Z.

Questions?

We have answers! Read our FAQs below, or call/text +1 (503) 907-9889 with any questions you have about traveling. We're here 8am-5pm weekdays, Pacific. For questions about Outside+ accounts please visit Account Assistance.

  1. What is included in this trip?

    Accommodations for six nights; internal bush and float plane flights; ground transportation as a group; all meals and beverages; group supplies (tarp shelters, cooking equipment, utensils, toilet supplies, satellite phone, GPS, medical kit, rescue equipment, trekking poles); entrance fees for national parks; and gratuities for expedition guides. We will be joined for this adventure by up to two expert expedition guides. Each guide is medically certified as a Wilderness First Responder and is highly qualified in all necessary skills to safely travel throughout Alaska’s vast wilderness.

  2. What is not included?

    Roundtrip airfare to/from Alaska; travel insurance; transportation to the trip’s meeting point; activities not included in the trip itinerary; lodge incidentals; personal gear (sleeping bag and mat, backpack, camping chair, clothing, personal items); gratuity for tour leader.

  3. How difficult is this trip?

    This is considered a 'hard' backcountry adventure. You will be backpacking and hiking off-trail over steep, hilly, and uneven terrain, often covering more than six miles in a day with up to 2,000' of elevation gain/loss. Our longest day will be hiking up to 12 miles with a daypack. You may encounter short stretches of thick vegetation and may also experience Alaska's diverse selection of insect species. You will be camping in remote wilderness, sleeping in tents, relieving yourself in places with a stunning view, and sometimes enjoying all of the above in the rain. You carry a backpack (30-40 lbs) with your own gear plus a portion of the group's gear. Pre-trip physical conditioning should begin no later than 2 months before departure and should include walking or hiking, preferably with loaded backpack. We strongly discourage guests from arriving without doing pre-trip physical conditioning.

  4. Where does the trip start and end?

    You must be at The Lakefront Anchorage Hotel at 6:30am on Day 1. We recommend you arrive at the Anchorage International Airport (ANC) in Anchorage, Alaska the day prior. On the last day of the trip you may book your flights home departing from ANC at any time after 7:30pm.

  5. What are the accommodations like?

    For the five nights we camp in the wilderness. Modern Adventure provides expedition quality single- or double-occupancy tents, as well as group-sized tarp shelters for enjoying meals under. Not only does including the finest equipment make camp life more comfortable, it also adds a level of safety to trips that could otherwise be relentlessly unforgiving to the unprepared. We’ll also enjoy our last night on this trip at Farm Lodge, a remote resort in Port Alsworth on the shore of Lake Clark.

  6. Who is going on this trip?

    This adventure is recommended for travelers aged 18 and above who are in good health and have previous experience with multi-day backpacking. You will be expected to load and unload your own gear, carry a portion of the group gear, and manage your own physical comfort and well-being. This adventure will be limited to no more than 10 fellow adventurers plus your Modern Adventure team. On our inaugural departure with travel with Outside editor-in-chief Christopher Keyes. Please note that Outside Interactive, Inc. is not responsible for the organization or operation of this experience, which is governed by Modern Adventure's Terms of Service (see link below).

  7. How much can the itinerary change?

    While we do our best to follow our itineraries, certain factors may cause our guides to deviate. These considerations include weather conditions, group preference, individual ability, safety, or unforeseeable circumstances—what many call “The Alaska Factor.” Flight times into and out of the wilderness may also vary based on any number of similar factors, as well as our opportunity to view wildlife. Like any adventure, approach our time in Alaska with an open mind.

  8. What if I am a solo traveler?

    Prices are based on double occupancy. If you are a solo traveler and want to have your own accommodations, a $750 supplement will apply at checkout. These spots are very limited due to the type of accommodations on backcountry backpacking adventures and are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

  9. What travel documents are needed?

    US citizens and residents should check the TSA’s website for requirements and acceptable ID for domestic air travel. Some State issued IDs may no longer meet TSA standards. If you are a Non-US Citizen traveling to Alaska, visit the US Consulate or Embassy for requirements and information about passports & visas.

  10. What is the cancelation policy?

    On our August 15, 2022 departure with Outside's Chris Keyes, you may cancel on or before April 17, 2022 and receive a full refund minus a $500 per-person service fee. If you cancel on or after April 18, 2022 there is a 50% cancellation fee. On or after June 16, 2022 there is a 100% cancellation fee. On our August 22, 2022 departure, you may cancel on or before April 24, 2022 and receive a full refund minus a $500 per-person service fee. If you cancel on or after April 25, 2022 there is a 50% cancellation fee. On or after June 23, 2022 there is a 100% cancellation fee. We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance as we are not able to make exceptions to this policy in cases of family/medical emergency or cases of the trip being canceled (see our Terms and Conditions for full details). For best coverage, always insure the full trip cost within two weeks of your initial trip deposit and note that most 'Cancel For Any Reason' policies must be purchased on the date of your initial deposit.

  11. Do I need Travel Insurance?

    We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance. Travel insurance allows you to seek reimbursement for your trip costs if your trip plans change for unforeseeable reasons, or if you need to get medical help, emergency transport, and for theft, loss or damage of items while traveling. For best coverage, always insure the full trip cost within two weeks of your initial trip deposit and note that most 'Cancel For Any Reason' policies must be purchased on the date of your initial deposit. Since this adventure takes place in remote locations, it can be difficult and expensive to plan medical evacuations. It is each guest’s responsibility to be covered by emergency medical, evacuation and repatriation insurance, or to be prepared to cover the cost yourself, for expenses related to an emergency medical evacuation and repatriation.